The Catholic Diocese of Charleston will offer a special Mass at 5:15 p.m. Sunday in observation of National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
The Mass, held at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist on Broad Street, “will be offered for the healing of child sexual abuse victims and their families, and in recognition of the diocese’s newly adopted policy that addresses sexual abuse allegations,” the diocese said in a news release.
The Catholic Church has been coping for decades with allegations of abuse at the hands of pedophile priests and church employees, as well as accusations of cover-ups and obfuscation. The scandal first burst onto the public stage in the U.S. in the 1980s and has since embroiled church officials in European countries, Canada, Mexico and elsewhere.
South Carolina has not remained untouched by the scandal. In 2007, a multi-million-dollar settlement was reached in a class-action lawsuit adjudicated in the Lowcountry. That was followed by a separate, smaller settlement with victims who opted out of the class action.
An abuse policy has been in effect in the diocese since 1994. The policy was revised in August 2003, mandating personnel screening, and again in 2011.
The diocese’s “Policy Concerning Allegations of Sexual Misconduct or Abuse of a Minor by Church Personnel” goes into effect Sunday.
“There are three major revisions to the policy,” Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone said in a statement. “The first is new restrictions when communicating with youth through social media. The second is closing any ambiguity regarding background screening and safe environment training of employees and volunteers. The third gives more independence to the advisory board that assesses allegations.”